"I don't want to get rid of them, but I don't know what to do with them"

Here's a question from one of my blog readers:

"I have boxes and boxes of photos in albums (and some not in albums). They are of my kids, my family and friends, and I am kind of following in my mom's footsteps as the holder of family photos. I also have all of her slides from my childhood."

"I don't want to get rid of them, but I don't know what to do with them. I have them in storage boxes, piled in my room. Occasionally I take some out, scan them into the computer, post them on Facebook. What to do?"

You sound overwhelmed. The situation itself has become clutter for you. Having these photos is not making you happy. Being a "holder of family photos" is causing you grief. This is a red flag. It means things can't stay as they are for you to feel better. What you feel is what's at stake here.

When you say, "I don't know what to do with them" means there's discomfort. When we feel uncomfortable in other situations we do something about it. If there's a rock in our shoe, we take it out. It sounds like you are the decision maker in this situation. You are the holder of the photos. It's important and absolutely okay for you to do something about these photos so you can get back your peace of mind.

Ask yourself, "Do I or any of my family members enjoy looking at the photos?" There's a generally held feeling that people have to hang onto pictures. Many people assume photos can't be questioned. But not everyone enjoys looking at them. Many of my clients have boxes, bags, envelopes, folders and photo albums full of photos that they never look at. Does it make you feel good to sit down and look at the photos? You want to see if they are an actual part of your life, or a 'supposed to' or 'should' part.

If you do like looking at family photos, then it would help to pare them down. We don't do well with too many choices. We think and experience better with less. You can take a stack of photos and look at one photo at a time and ask, "Do I like this picture or can I let it go?" "Does this picture make me happy, or can I toss it?" When you actually sit down and ask yourself about each thing individually it becomes much easier to make decisions. Then you end up with a smaller and more enjoyable to look at collection of pictures. You can even scan the ones you like on facebook.

Your clutter situation also sounds overwhelming because it falls on your shoulders. Could you ask for help from other family members?